Two years after 23-year-old Nohemi Gonzalez, a Cal State Long Beach industrial-design senior, was killed in the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, the department in which she had spent so many hours honing her skills was the site of a plaque unveiling in her honor.
Students and educators from the university’s design department created and fabricated the plaque based on a design Gonzalez herself had conceived while studying near Paris.
Gonzalez lost her life while having dinner at the La Belle Equipe bistro when coordinated mass shootings, suicide bombings and hostage-taking took place on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. The incidents claimed the lives of 130 people. Gonzalez was expected to return home to California the following month.
At noon on Wednesday, during a press conference in the Lower Division Shop in the Design Building at the university, Design Department Chair Martin Herman called the El Monte student “a relentless and dedicated presence.”
“She had a great love of the materials of design, the making part of it, where you wrestle your ideas into tangible form as you bring them into life, which is what this shop is all about,” Herman said. “And she was really in her element here.”
The faculty member acknowledged the work of several of his own colleagues and students who contributed to the design and making of the plaque, including one who was also in the French capital during the attacks.
“The plaque itself, […] was fabricated by Andrew Calder, another alum of ours and also a colleague and classmate with Nohemi in Paris at Strate [School of Design] in 2015,” Herman said.
At the time of her death, Gonzalez was spending a semester at the Strate School of Design in Sèvres near Paris.
The plaque, which was designed to hang inside the campus’s Lower Division Shop, includes her original logo mark and a favorite quote of hers, according to university officials.
The quote reads: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.”
Faculty member Michael LaForte oversaw the process of creating the honorary piece, with student input and leadership and coordination provided by Andrew Marosi, an alumnus and classmate of Gonzalez.
In addition to the inclusion of Gonzalez’s favorite quote, the plaque also features a description of her character and work ethic.
“Nohemi was a passionate and dedicated student and shop assistant,” the statement reads. “This was where she devoted much of her time, improving, creating, connecting and inspiring.”